Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Besty DeVos proposed cutting funding for the Special Olympics. But after an overwhelming response to keep the program, President Donald Trump stepped in saying the budget would not be touched, allowing athletes and families to breathe a sigh of relief.
One of those athletes is Dave Scheetz, a Special Olympics legend from Austintown with a smile unlike any other.
“For years they have been referring to him as Old Man Scheetz,” said Janet Scheetz, Dave’s sister.
Dave has been competing in the Special Olympics for more than 50 years, playing all kinds of sports — the reason for his sports-themed bedroom. But his favorite is volleyball.
He even competed in the 1995 Special Olympics World Games in roller skating, where he won three silver medals.
Dave lives with his sister Janet, who says the Special Olympics program has helped him in so many amazing ways.
“When he wins an event he gets a big grin on his face, he’s very happy,” she said.
But even if he doesn’t win…
“He just loves competing, and that’s what it’s all about for them, they get to compete and they have a good time,” Janet said.
Janet says the program gives sports opportunities to people who may not have them, and it’s a sight of humanity she says we all could use more of.
“You’ve never seen such happy, such happy people competing, having a good time — camaraderie, win or lose,” Janet said.
Dave’s collection of more than 200 medals, trophies and ribbons proves he is no stranger to winning.
“I’m just so proud of him, we all are,” Janet said.
Janet says the Special Olympics program is a national treasure that should always be maintained to continue helping people like Dave keep that big smile on his face.